Local restaurants offer mini-vacation for the tastebuds

Cafe Nola at 617 Union St. (Peter Barber/Gazette Photographer)Cafe Nola at 617 Union St. (Peter Barber/Gazette Photographer)

BY REBECCA ISENHART
Gazette Reporter

Vacation season is ending, but adventurous diners can still find something new in restaurants in and around Niskayuna, taking their taste buds to distant lands without a passport or risk of jet lag.

Here are a few options:

Flores Family Restaurant
1427 State St., Schenectady

The Flores Family Restaurant serves up Peruvian and Salvadoran fare, from fried yuca to cheese pupusas, which are corn tortillas traditionally filled with some combination of cheese, pork and beans. Dishes like tamales and enchiladas are consistent customer favorites. More comfort food than complete shock to the taste buds, the menu strikes a balance between novelty and reliability.

Mari’s Japanese Cuisine
2049 Van Vranken Ave., Schenectady

Sushi has become so popular that it may be more of a staple than a risk for many diners. However, if you stop by within an hour of closing, ask for the late night special: three rolls’ worth of whatever the chef feels like making. With options like eel and alligator on the menu, things could get exciting.

Cafe Nola
617 Union St., Schenectady

There is no shortage of ways to try something new at this Cajun/Creole cafe in downtown Schenectady. Start off with alligator bites or crawfish nachos to whet your appetite, and if you like the flavor, move on to alligator etouffee, a rice dish smothered in sauce. You can also get alligator in a po’ boy sandwich — or chicken, catfish, or oyster, if you prefer. Bringing along a more reserved eating partner? The chicken fingers play to Nola’s deep-fried strengths.

Tara Kitchen
431 Liberty St., Schenectady

This small but popular restaurant features Moroccan cuisine, much of which is spicy. About a third of the dinner entrees center around lamb, although there are plenty of chicken and vegetable options, too. Not in the mood to sit down? Tara Kitchen also attends the Schenectady Greenmarket each Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., where you can buy their marinades and cooking sauces for your own kitchen.

Shalimar
952 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham

This inexpensive spot serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine, and even delivers if you’re in the mood for adventurous food to come to you. Chicken tikka masala and fluffy naan bread are great introductory options for first timers. The goat curry also gets rave reviews, but the lunch buffet is the way to go for those who aren’t sure what to order.

Chez Nous (opening soon)
707 Union St., Schenectady

Scheduled to open its doors this fall, Chez Nous will combine local and regional produce with traditional French cuisine. The dinner menu on its website, cheznousschenectady.com, features dishes not often seen in the U.S., including rabbit and pheasant. Not quite ready for those entrees? It looks as though there will be plenty of baguette and brie to munch on while you work up your courage.

About the Author

Rebecca Isenhart
Rebecca Isenhart is the reporter/writer for Your Niskayuna, presented by the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.